Thursday, October 20, 2011

Even More TNA Fallout

@ChadSmart on Twitter

This is being written before Impact airs on 10/20/11. Thoughts are culled from results from the taping being posted online message boards and Twitter. Saved the posting until after Impact aired to avoid posting spoilers.

At TNA’s biggest show of the year, Bound For Glory, Robert Roode failed to capture the TNA World Title from Kurt Angle. At the Impact taping two days later, Roode’s tag team partner James Storm defeated Kurt to become the new TNA Champion. Rumored events surrounding this title change are indicative of some of the major problems surrounding TNA.

Robert Roode won the right to face Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory by winning the BFG Series tournament, a series of matches over the past five months. The BFG Series came down to a final four of Roode, James Storm, Gunner and Bully Ray. After clinching the victory at No Surrender, Roode was built up to be a credible threat to Angle’s championship. The way the story played out with Roode having to face his Fortune stable mates on the path to Angle, along with video packages giving an insight into Roode’s personal life and the sacrifices he’s made to achieve his dream of being a professional wrestler, the logical and most satisfying outcome was for Roode to capture his first World Championship. Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows we rarely use the words “logic” and “TNA” in the same sentence.

Angle pins Roode (Impact Wrestling)
Two days before Bound For Glory, Hulk Hogan made comments in an interview that Roode wasn’t ready to be the next guy and Hogan would have chosen James Storm to be the one to challenge Angle. Allegedly, on the day of the show, Hogan convinced those in power to have Angle retain the title instead of crowning Roode the new champion. Again, this was the main event of TNA’s biggest show of the year and the planned outcome (which had been building for months) was changed a few hours before the show. Also keep in mind Kurt Angle was suffering from a hamstring injury that he admitted would keep him out of the ring for a couple of weeks. I simply don’t understand the reasoning behind cutting the legs out from Roode.

Now Hogan and Eric Bischoff have made comments online about “marks” getting upset and not being able to see the big picture. I would almost agree with them to a point except in typical TNA fashion the story told between Bound for Glory and Impact doesn’t make much sense. If they had planned on James Storm winning the title, why not have Storm win the BFG Series? I mean, he was one of the final four and could have easily won the tournament instead of Robert Roode. Keep the same story in place and have Storm win the title at Bound For Glory. Simple.

Roode in shock (Impact Wrestling)
Even if Storm winning was an audible, there was a better way to have the story play out. As lame as it would have been to do a bait and switch for the biggest show of the year, they could have started BFG with Angle (or Immortal) beating down Roode in the back. After the opening match, Mike Tenay could have announced the doctors were declaring Roode unfit to compete. Cut to an interview with James Storm vowing revenge for his Beer Money partner and petitioning to be able to take Roode’s place. Kurt Angle could at first reject the offer but Storm could eventually goad Angle into accepting. The match happens and Storm wins.  I’m willing to bet that fans initially upset over Roode’s injury would have bought into the finish and left Bound For Glory happy and excited for the new champion. Perhaps it’s because it’s my idea, but sometimes these scenarios seem like they write themselves.

Now, with what happened recapped and re-imagined, allow me to explain why I feel this is another example of TNA shooting themselves in the foot and why they will never grow bigger than their current place in the wrestling world.

Have I mentioned Bound For Glory is, in their words, TNA’s biggest show of the year? So theoretically this should be the show with the most set of eyes on it and the one to entice possible new fans to continue watching Impact and PPVs. Instead, fans that spent money on the show were basically told, “you’re a fool for spending money on our shows. We’re going to give away the big title change on free TV.” 

Storm gets the pin
Given the alleged buy rates of TNA PPVs, I can understand putting major events (title changes, returns, etc.) on Impact. At the same time, failing to capitalize on momentum on the biggest show of the year (I know I’m slipping into wrestling announcer cliché with the constant repeating. Just trying to stress how big of a bad decision the title switch was the way it was done.) makes PPV look trivial. Kevin and I have both stated many times the current PPV landscape is too crowded and both TNA and WWE should scale back the number of PPVs they do each year. Not having Robert Roode win the title coupled with Jeff Hardy’s disastrous performance at Victory Road (btw, Hogan thinks Jeff Hardy should be the next man in TNA) and this hasn’t been too stellar of a year for TNA on pay per view.

Notwithstanding the disappointment of Roode failing to capture the title and Storm winning the title on television, the comments by Hogan and Bischoff infuriate me, as they seem to not understand the role of the fans in keeping a promotion alive. Then again, since TNA tapes Impact in front of non-paying fans maybe they don’t care about alienating any fans. If I’m a fan of TNA and I’m constantly not only having my intelligence insulted by the writing of the show, but the two biggest persons in the company are also writing insulting comments and degrading fans online, why would I want to continue to support the company?
Kevin has posted a couple blogs and a video about how Hogan and Bischoff’s comments are insulting to any fan that is simply trying to express disappointment of dissatisfaction with TNA. I’ll agree there are some people online who exist solely to constantly make ignorant comments or be a jackass for the sake of trying to get a rise out of someone famous. If you read enough comments on message boards or youtube videos, it becomes pretty clear which comments can be dismissed as trolling. However there is a portion of the fans that want to see TNA succeed and want it to be an alternative to WWE not just a mere copycat.

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it here, I was a fan of TNA from the moment I read the first press release announcing the formation of the company. I bought all the weekly pay per views. When the monthly pay per views started, I bought all them up until January 2007 when I moved to California. Sure I wasn’t excited at the random ex-WWE guys showing up from time to time, but in the early days I got to see fresh new talent. Guys like AJ Styles, America’s Most Wanted, Sonny Siaki, Slim J. and others. In addition to fresh talent, I got to see a company that treated their titles as something worth fighting for and each title was just as prestigious as the next. It wasn’t uncommon to one week see a main event for the World Title, then the next week the main event was for the tag titles. A couple weeks later the X Division title would get the spotlight. Now the titles are seen as little more than props with all the titles besides the World title often treated like an afterthought. When was the last time a X Division wasn’t the first or second match on a pay per view?

I miss the original TNA. I’m kind of getting off track here. That’s fine. I need to rant. I am frustrated by what TNA has become over the last 5 or so years. The Hulkster and Easy E can call me a mark. I don’t care. Sometimes I wish I were a pure mark. Maybe then I could enjoy the piss poor shows TNA and WWE put out more. I wouldn’t care that the attention is on authority figures or people who run the company and who don’t wrestle instead of on the actual wrestlers. I don’t expect every match to be a 30-minute mat based catch as catch can display of technical prowess. I simply want to be entertained and not have my intelligence insulted on a weekly basis.  

Part of me wants to give TNA the “Stone Cold Salute” and walk away from even reading recaps of their shows because I’m tired of constantly being frustrated. But if every fan that felt that way walked away, who would be hurt the most? Hogan has made his money and can always find some new lame product to hock on TV. Bischoff has his production company that can pitch another show to VH1. Scott Baio is 50 and has a Hernia, anyone? Dixie Carter can go back to working for Panda Energy. No, the people hurt the most by TNA failing are the guys who are busting their back trying to make it worth watching. AJ Styles, James Storm, Robert Roode, Austin Aries, Motor City Machine Guns, etc. All the guys on the roster who no matter how many people are in the crowd always give 110%.

I’m trying to think of one other company whose management insults the people who buy their product as much as TNA’s executives insult their fans. If someone posted something online about Microsoft being better than Apple, would Steve Jobs have blasted him or her as stupid Bill Gates fanboys?

I have just one request/question for anyone in TNA. How many complaints will it take before you start to rethink the direction the company is headed? I won’t hold my breath for an answer.
What are your feelings on TNA? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page. I am really curious to hear what you think.  

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